Rangers resilient but can’t overcome atrocious defensive effort against Oilers

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs oilers 12-11

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Pathetic. Lowly. Disheartening. Horrendous. Abominable. There’s a multitude of words you can use to describe the Rangers (18-9-3) defensive effort in their 7-5 loss to the streaking Edmonton Oilers (13-15-2).

After kicking off the road trip with a disappointing loss to the Canucks, the Rangers could not contain the Edmonton Oilers, with the defense letting in a total of seven goals, blowing multiple ties and ruining leads that some of the forwards worked hard to attain.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. Touted as two of the better defenders on the team, and counted on to shut down opposition. Realistically, they have been downright bad for the majority of this season. McDonagh was on the ice for the first six goals in the game, and Girardi the first five. They blew coverages, made mistakes and stunk up the ice tonight.

Alain Vigneault also refuses to break up the pairing, or even better, bench one of them and let McIlrath get heavy minutes in the game. It’s time to hold everyone accountable, no matter what the name is on the back of their jersey, no matter what their salary is.

Tanner Glass has had two straight games with negative possession and hasn’t been that good lately. There’s no need to keep playing him over Etem or Stalberg, because he’s not going to magically transform into an offensive player. Send him down and call up a defenseman, preferably Skjei.

With the loss, the Rangers are now 2-6-1 in their last nine games.

The first period was awful. Terrible. Atrocious. Any negative adjectives that you want to use apply here. The Rangers gave up three goals and their defensive play was not up to par, particularly from Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, who were on the ice for all three goals against.

The Ranger had a great opportunity to start the period, getting a power play eight seconds into the game after Anders Nilsson cleared the puck over the boards. They spent the entire two minutes in Edmonton’s zone and managed three shots on goal, but to no avail.

Just over five minutes into the period, Chris Kreider took a penalty for interference, putting the Oilers on the power play. Iiro Pakarinen sent a shot on net, and Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t control the rebound, leaving it in the crease for former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski to tap into the back of the net (On this pay, Dan Girardi was behind the net watching the Oilers attack the loose puck).

Following a penalty kill with two big saves from Henrik Lundqvist, New York was able to tie the game thanks to Mats Zuccarello and his 12th goal of the season.

The team was cycling the puck in the Oilers zone, and Dylan McIlrath made a great play to keep the puck in at the blue line. He quickly sent a pass to Kreider, who fed Zuccarello for a one timer. McIlrath’s assist was the first point of his NHL career.

From that point on, everything went downhill.

Korpikoski wound up scoring his second goal of the game just minutes after Zuccarello tied the game. Matt Hendricks carried the puck behind the net, and Dan Girardi went to make a check. Girardi was outmuscled and unable to prevent a centering pass, Ryan McDonagh got himself tied up with Dom Moore, and both men were caught out of position as Korpikoski sent the loose puck past Lundqvist.

On the third goal, Ryan McDonagh was caught pinching on the attack and was out of position, leading to an Oilers breakaway. Some slick passing from Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl led to a one timer from Teddy Purcell, beating Henrik Lundqvist top shelf. Dan Girardi went down to the ice for some reason and didn’t defend Purcell on the shot.

If you couldn’t tell from the past eight paragraphs, Dan Girardi was dreadful. He’s struggled a lot this season, and made some huge errors this period, ones that played a part in all three goals. Ryan McDonagh was pretty bad too.

The second period was not all that strong, with the Rangers getting just three shots on goal in the first 12 minutes or so, and a total of nine for the period. But thanks to two goals and Henrik Lundqvist, they managed to tie the game at three goals apiece.

Just 53 seconds into the period, Chris Kreider ended his scoring drought and cut Edmonton’s lead to one. Lundqvist made an excellent read of the on-ice situation, and sent a long pass to Zuccarello at the opposite blue line. Zuccs hit Kreider with a pass, and he backhanded it through Nilsson’s legs.

Henrik Lundqvist was strong in this period, getting a piece of a Leon Draisaitl rocket and preventing a goal. At the other end of the ice, New York wound up tying the game.

Rick Nash used his body to shield the puck and stickhandle through the offensive zone before dropping it back to Derick Brassard at the point. Brass waited for some traffic in front and a shooting lane before rifling a shot past Nilsson, tying the game at three. It was Brassard’s 10th goal of the season, and he has six points (4-2-6) in the last six games.

It woudn’t be a Rangers game without a highlight reel save from Henrik Lundqvist, and he made this sprawling glove save to deny Korpikoski his hat trick.

The Rangers were somewhat lucky to tie the game and keep the score knotted at 3. After two periods, the Oilers led in shots on goal, 30-18, as well as shot attempts, 45-27.

Somehow, the Rangers managed to outshoot the Oilers and dominate the possession in the period, and they set themselves up to steal a point from this game, but blew that too.

Just 18 seconds in, Taylor Hall gave the Oilers their lead back courtesy of the wonder-pair of McDonagh and Girardi. For some reason, both defenseman were behind the net defending Purcell, who passed it to Taylor Hall, positioned alone in front of the net and scored.

Shortly after that, rookie defenseman Darnell Nurse scored his second goal of the year, thanks again to the wonderful defensive effort from McDonagh and Girardi. The defensive pair was nowhere to be found as Hall set up Nurse, uncovered, in front of the net. Nurse wristed a shot past Lundqvist to give Edmonton a 5-3 lead.

Alain Vigneault would yank Henrik Lundqvist in favor of Antti Raanta. But Raanta wouldn’t face a shot for about 15 minutes as the Rangers controlled possession and the flow of play.

After Nurse scored, Rick Nash took it upon himself to make a difference. He skated through defenders and into Edmonton’s zone, firing a wrist shot off of the crossbar. Nilsson couldn’t find the puck, and Brassard was there for a tap in and his second goal of the game. The Oilers lead was cut to 5-4.

The Rangers would have a few more chances, but the clock kept winding down to under two minutes. Teddy Purcell cross-checked McDonagh up high, and the Rangers went on the power play with 1:53 remaining. Raanta went to the bench for an extra attacker.

It took just seven seconds for the Rangers to score and tie the game, with Rick Nash finding the back of the net for the first time in six games. Dan Boyle sent a shot on net that bounced around in front, and Nash had two chances at it, eventually putting it top shelf and tying the game.

However, all it took was 12 seconds and some bad defense for Taylor Hall and the Oilers to recapture the lead. AV responded to the tying goal with McDonagh and Stoll, as well as some other defensive players. But McDonagh decided to pinch at the opposite blue line and Stoll couldn’t do anything to stop Draisaitl from going on a 2v1 with Hall, and the Oilers took the lead.

Lauri Korpikoski would seal the victory with an empty net goal, completing his hat trick.

The defense was terrible. And it was really almost exclusively the McDonagh-Girardi pairing. They were the only defenseman with a negative plus/minus rating, which really says something in a 7-5 hockey game. Girardi is not top pairing material anymore, and McDonagh has been pretty awful for long stretches of this season. Something needs to change, and it would be fantastic if Brady Skjei could come up for a bit and replace Girardi for a game or two.

Derick Brassard has been fantastic in the absence of Derek Stepan. Brass has seven points (5-2-7) in his last six games and has been great no matter where he plays. His linemate Mats Zuccarello broke out of his scoring slump with the first goal of the game.

Speaking of breaking out of the slump, Chris Kreider scored a goal and played a pretty strong, well-rounded game. He tallied two points and was very involved physically and on the forecheck. However, he still takes stupid penalties and needs to work on his zone entries.

The Rangers will try to avoid embarrassment tomorrow night when they take on the Calgary Flames to end their road trip.


1) Derick Brassard – 2 G, 5 SOG, 16:44 TOT

2) Rick Nash – 1 G, 2 A, 5 SOG, 16:34 TOT

3) Mats Zuccarello – 1 G, 1 A, 19:28 TOT

Posted on December 12, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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